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Anarchism, Switzerland

Yannick Beaulieu


Switzerland was one of the birthplaces of anarchism as a political branch of the workers' movement in the late nineteenth century. Its position as a European crossroads, a destination for anarchists expelled from other countries and the site for the 1866 Geneva congress that founded the International Workingmen's Association (IWA) (retrospectively called the First International), would shape Swiss anarchism. The Jura Federation, a Swiss section of the IWA, was founded on October 9, 1870, at a meeting in Saint-Imier. The following year, after the defeat of the Paris Commune, many former communards, such as Paul Brousse, André Léo, and Benoît Malon, took refuge in Switzerland, joining the Jura Federation. Protesting what they viewed as the authoritarian maneuvers of Marx and his allies in the International, the Jura Federation issued a key manifesto of anarchism, the Sonvillier Circular (1871). At its zenith, the Jura Federation counted between 300 and 400 members in 20 sections, mostly in Neuchâtel, Le Locle, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Sonvillier, Saint-Imier, and Geneva, and its Bulletin had 600 subscribers in ten different countries. Expelled from the International in 1872, the Jura Federation held its own congress that same year, founding a new association, the so-called Saint-Imier International. The Saint-Imier International gathered some of the best minds of the anarchist movement, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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